Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 30 July

Wine Club 30 July
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We’ve some wonderful summery wines this week, each one from France. Not deliberately so: it’s just that these six wines — from Alsace, Loire, Bordeaux and beyond — were easily the best in our tasting. And I reckon they show that France on song is pretty much unbeatable and (thanks here, I admit, to some very generous discounts) great value.

First, the 2015 Sauvignon de Touraine, Domaine Bellevue (1), a lemon-fresh, really rather tropical Sauvignon Blanc produced but a stone’s throw from the dreamiest of all Loire Valley châteaux: Chenonceau. Patrick Vauvy is the fourth generation of his family to make wine in Noyers-sur-Cher and his wines are noted for their elegance and exuberance. If the mineral-rich, south-facing vineyards were a few hundred metres further south-east, it would be classified as Sancerre and a heck of a lot pricier. £8.50 down from £9.49.

If there’s one region in France I love above all others, it’s Alsace. Gascony runs it close but Alsace, well, Alsace is the tops. I’m just back from there and as I sat in a Colmar winstub knocking off a bottle of Pinot Blanc and stuffing my fat face with a belt--straining choucroute garnie, I vowed to make a greater effort to drink more Alsace wine back home. I’m going to start with the fabulous 2014 Pinot Blanc, Domaine de la Ville de Colmar (2). Deliciously scented on the nose, it’s full of spicy, honeyed, creamy fruit — peaches and custard apples — backed by an exhilarating fresh acidity. Just about perfect. £11.50 down from £13.49.

Frédéric Salin and Jean-Luc Zuger (owner of Third Growth Château Malescot-Saint-Exupéry in Bordeaux) have spent ten years developing Domaine de Tamary into something special, and the 2015 Domaine de Tamary Rosé (3) is everything a fine Côtes de Provence rosé should be. A typical blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre, it’s a seductive pale pink that fair flutters its eyelashes at you. A quick sniff of its fresh summer fruit and it’s impossible to resist. Crisp, clean and refreshing and full of spicy wild strawberry fruit, it has weight and a long satisfying finish. £10.99 down from £15.99.

The 2015 Costières de Nîmes, Château Teulon (4) is a red of real character produced by seventh-generation Teulons in the village of Saint Gilles, south of Nîmes. Made from organically farmed fruit, vinified separately, it’s a blend of 60 per cent Syrah (giving liquorice, spice, dark berry fruit), 30 per cent Grenache (soft, supple red berry fruit) and 10 per cent Mourvèdre (backbone, structure and oomph). It’s extremely satisfying and ideal for an impromptu summer barbecue. £7.75 down from £8.99.

The 2009 Mas Belles Eaux ‘Les Coteaux’ (5) from the Languedoc is an old favourite and I remember visiting the estate ten or so years ago, soon after it had been taken over by Christian Seely on behalf of Axa Millésimes, the vineyard-owning arm of Axa Insurance. Christian — who also oversees such stellar estates as Château Pichon-Baron, Château Suduiraut and Quinta do Noval — was convinced by the potential of Mas Belles Eaux, and my goodness he’s been proved right. Aged for 15 months in oak, this little beauty is full of ripe, dark, concentrated, spicy plum/blackcurrant/-damson fruit, with hints of dark chocolate and even coffee. It has a decent amount of bottle age and is ridiculously good value at £9.50 down from £12.99.

Finally, the 2012 Ronan by Clinet (6), made by the same team who produce the celebrated grand vin of Château Clinet (owned by Ronan Laborde), one of the finest Pomerol estates. 100 per cent Merlot, it’s soft, smooth, supple, succulent and impeccably stylish and elegant. Since the vineyards are just outside Pomerol, the wine is classified merely as AC Bordeaux — which means it’s about a third of the price it might otherwise be. £9.99 down from £11.99.

The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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